Ché Adams

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Ché Adams
Che Adams.jpg
Adams with Birmingham City in 2016
Personal information
Full name Ché Zach Everton Fred Adams[1]
Date of birth (1996-07-13) 13 July 1996 (age 23)[1]
Place of birth Leicester, England
Height 1.75 m (5 ft 9 in)[2]
Playing position Forward, midfielder
Club information
Current team
Number 10
Youth career
0000–2003 Highfield Rangers
2003–2010 Coventry City
2010–2012 St Andrews
2012 Oadby Town
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2012–2013 Oadby Town 33 (5)
2013–2014 Ilkeston 40 (9)
2014–2016 Sheffield United 47 (11)
2016–2019 Birmingham City 116 (34)
2019– Southampton 16 (0)
National team
2015 England U20 2 (0)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 18:00, 11 January 2020 (UTC)

Ché Zach Everton Fred Adams (born 13 July 1996) is an English professional footballer who plays as a forward or a midfielder for Premier League club Southampton. He began his senior career in non-league football with Oadby Town and Ilkeston before moving into the Football League with Sheffield United in late 2014. He made 47 League One appearances before signing for Birmingham in August 2016. He represented England at under-20 level in 2015.

Club career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Adams was born in Leicester,[1] where he played football as a youngster for Highfield Rangers. He joined Coventry City's youth academy as a seven-year-old, and was released at fourteen.[3] He then played youth football for Leicester club St Andrews[4] before joining Oadby Town in 2012. Initially playing for their youth team, Adams soon moved into the first team;[5] over the 2012–13 season, the sixteen-year-old made 33 appearances for Oadby in the United Counties League, of which 27 were in the starting eleven, and scored five goals.[6]

Adams took up a scholarship with Ilkeston's academy,[7] and helped their team win their section of the Football Conference Youth Alliance and reach the second round proper of the 2013–14 FA Youth Cup.[8] He was also playing first-team football in the Northern Premier League. Making his debut on 13 October as a very late substitute in a 3–2 win away to Stocksbridge Park Steels,[8][9] Adams made his first league start in November,[8] was sent off for elbowing an opponent on Boxing Day,[10] scored his first senior goal for the club to complete a 3–1 win away to Ashton United on 5 April – he "picked up a loose ball and made a fine run through midfield and provided a left foot finish despite [the goalkeeper's] best effort to make the block"[11] – and finished his season with the Derbyshire Senior Cup final, in which he was fouled for the penalty kick that made sure of Ilkeston's victory.[12]

After Adams began 2014–15 in spectacular fashion – introduced after 64 minutes of the second match of the season, "his pace, power and energy scar[ed] the life out of Stourbridge for the remainder of the game" as he provided two assists and was fouled for a penalty,[13] before scoring twice in the next match, against Trafford[14] – Ilkeston signed him to a one-year contract.[15][16] He continued in similar vein: away to Stamford, Ilkeston's first and third goals were scored on the rebound when Adams' shots were parried, he was fouled for the free kick that led to the second, and "picked the ball up 35 yards out, beat a defender with ease and slid the ball home" to complete a 4–0 win;[17] against Ashton United and FC United of Manchester, he used strength and pace to take the ball from his own half to score;[18] and by the end of October, when 45 scouts were reported to be watching him score his ninth goal of the season to add to eleven assists,[19][20] Ilkeston's chairman was resigned to his departure.[16]

Sheffield United[edit]

On 14 November 2014, Sheffield United of League One beat off competition from clubs in higher divisions to sign Adams on a two-year deal. The fee was officially undisclosed,[21][22] but the Sheffield Star reported it as a six-figure deal,[19] and the Ilkeston club confirmed "a substantial up-front payment in non-league terms – plus a percentage of any sell-on fee."[23] Adams made his professional senior debut on 16 December in a 1–0 home victory over Southampton, replacing Jamal Campbell-Ryce at half time as United made it to the semi-finals of the League Cup.[24] Four days later he made both his first career start and his first Football League appearance, in a 1–1 draw with Walsall at Bramall Lane.[25]

In the League Cup semi-final second leg against Tottenham Hotspur on 28 January 2015 at Bramall Lane, Adams replaced Campbell-Ryce after 74 minutes. Five minutes later he had scored his first goals for Sheffield United with two goals in just over two minutes, which would have taken the game to extra time had Christian Eriksen not scored for Tottenham Hotspur in the 88th minute to win 3–2 on aggregate.[26]

Adams made ten appearances as Sheffield United finished the season in the League One play-off places. In the play-off semi-final second leg away to Swindon Town on 11 May, he replaced Ryan Flynn for the final five minutes and scored an equaliser for a 5–5 draw, but his team lost 7–6 on aggregate.[27]

Adams scored for the first time in the league on 15 August 2015, with both goals in a 2–0 at home to Chesterfield which was Sheffield United's first win of the season,.[28] Ten days later, he signed a new three-year deal at United with the option of an extra year.[29] On 10 October, Adams scored twice in the first half of a 3–2 win over Rochdale,[30] and ten days later he got another brace to defeat Fleetwood Town 3–0, opening the scoring after 54 seconds.[31] He was given a straight red card on 5 December in the second round of the FA Cup, for a foul on Liam Kelly in a 1–0 win at Oldham Athletic.[32] Adams established himself as a regular in the team, partnering striker Billy Sharp,[33] but in March 2016 was dropped to the bench by manager Nigel Adkins for not working hard in training.[34] He soon returned,[35] finished the season with 12 goals from 41 appearances in all competitions, 11 from 36 in League One,[30] and was named by the Sheffield Star as its Young Player of the Year.[36]

Birmingham City[edit]

2016–17 season[edit]

Amid considerable transfer speculation, Adams played in Sheffield United's opening fixture of the 2016–17 season, but a bid was accepted from Championship club Birmingham City shortly afterwards,[37] and he signed a three-year contract with the club on 8 August 2016. The fee was undisclosed,[38] although the Sheffield Star reported it to be around £2 million, and that United had turned down deals valued at £1.2M and £1.7M.[39] Publicity surrounding the deal caused problems for the Ilkeston club: creditors believing that Ilkeston would benefit by an estimated £300,000 called in their debts, and when no payment was immediately forthcoming, the Northern Premier League suspended the club until the debts were settled, causing the postponement of their first four league fixtures.[40]

Players during a football match
Adams (right, wearing red) playing for Birmingham City in 2016

Adams made his Birmingham debut on 16 August, as a second-half substitute in a 1–1 draw away to Wigan Athletic.[41] He started the next match, at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers four days later, and opened the scoring with a low angled shot across the goalkeeper; he played 61 minutes, by which time manager Gary Rowett thought he "looked like he had run out of steam", as Birmingham went on to lose 3–1.[42] He played regularly through the first half of the season, though often as an impact substitute, and scored twice more, both times having come off the bench: to earn a draw against Preston North End in September, and a determined late winner against Bristol City in November.[43][44] He returned to the starting eleven for a 4–0 defeat away at Newcastle United in December, in which his hesitancy in a defensive situation led to the second goal,[45] but was back on the bench for the next fixture, after which Rowett was sacked. The Birmingham Mail suggested that the owners were "disgruntled" that several of Rowett's purchases, Adams included, were not regularly starting matches.[46]

Adams scored his first goal for three months in a losing cause away to Preston in mid-February,[47] and was influential as Birmingham beat Wolves a few days later.[48] Gianfranco Zola, Rowett's successor, had recognised the player's potential from the start, but was unsure of his best position.[49] As results failed to improve, Zola experimented with formations and personnel: he alternated Adams and Lukas Jutkiewicz as lone striker, and once Clayton Donaldson returned to fitness, there was a short spell when Adams was not used at all. He started the visit to Brighton & Hove Albion, playing just behind Donaldson, and scored a goal that both he and the Mail hoped would keep him in the team.[50]

With three matches left in the season, and relegation increasingly likely, Zola quit, to be replaced by Harry Redknapp. In the penultimate match, at home to Huddersfield Town, Adams was fouled for a penalty that Jutkiewicz missed, and was then sent off after 23 minutes for a two-footed tackle.[51] Birmingham still won, and the red card was rescinded on appeal, making him available for the final fixture, away to Bristol City, which Birmingham had to win to be sure of staying up.[52] After 16 minutes, Jutkiewicz played Adams through; he held off the defence and placed a low shot past the goalkeeper for the only goal of the game.[53] He appeared in 40 of a possible 44 league matches and scored 7 goals, some way short of the target of 15 that he had set himself, but his contribution over the campaign – he also made three assists and won "nearly twice as many" penalties[54] – earned him the club's Young Player of the Season award.[55][56]

2017–18 season[edit]

Considerable transfer speculation surrounded Adams during the summer window.[57] It was reported that Derby County, managed by Gary Rowett, had a £3M offer rejected and that the club turned down bids from Fulham first of £5M and then, on deadline day, of £10M.[58] In September, he signed a five-year contract on improved terms.[54] On the field, Adams began the 2017–18 season with his first senior hat-trick, against Crawley Town in the EFL Cup.[59] In his next match, he injured a hamstring, and in his second match back, a month later, he damaged his other hamstring.[54][60] He returned to the team to give Steve Cotterill a winning start as Birmingham manager at home to league-leaders Cardiff City on 13 October. According to BBC Sport's reporter, he "opted to take on the visiting defence single-handed. He put his head down and ran, slicing his way past four men in red before cutting inside to drill a low, curled right-foot shot which nutmegged Morrison before finding the right corner";[61] Cardiff manager Neil Warnock said that Adams' kick to an opponent's head while attempting a defensive clearance should have resulted in a penalty.[62] After Adams' winning goal against Nottingham Forest in November, Birmingham's assistant manager, Lee Carsley, praised his finishing while reminding him that he needed to get into goalscoring positions more often.[63] He missed most of December with yet another hamstring injury, and Cotterill used him mainly from the bench when he did return.[64][65]

With the team struggling at the foot of the table, Cotterill was replaced as manager by Garry Monk, who brought both Adams and Jutkiewicz back into the starting eleven in a 4–4–2 formation.[66][67][68] The pairing was disrupted by Adams' red card at Bolton – this time not rescinded on appeal[69] – but he returned to provide the assist for Jacques Maghoma's winning goal against Sheffield United[67] and a goal in the final fixture against Fulham as Birmingham's safety was confirmed.[70] He finished the season as Birmingham's top scorer, albeit with just 9 goals, which included a hat-trick against Crawley Town in the EFL Cup.[71][72]

2018–19 season[edit]

Ahead of the coming campaign, he chose to take over the vacant squad number 9.[73] Still in partnership with Jutkiewicz, Adams made a slow start: he scored both goals in a 2–1 win away to Leeds United, but still only had three by mid-October.[74][75] He then went on a run and had ten by mid-December.[75] Monk highlighted the growing relationship between the pair.[76] Adams attributed his improvement to intensive coaching from former striker James Beattie, to improved fitness training that meant he still felt strong in the later stages of a match, and to a reminder from the manager before the visit to Leeds that "he wanted that fire in my belly and just be hungrier and be a nuisance for other people."[77] According to Jutkiewicz, "it comes with growing up, he's got more of that steel about him and wants to physically impose himself on opponents and you can see that difference."[78]

There was considerable interest from Premier League clubs in January, but Birmingham did not want to sell, and no offer received was considered enough to force their hand given that the player could neither be replaced nor loaned back because of signing restrictions imposed by the EFL because the club were in breach of profitability and sustainability (P&S) rules. A bid of £12 million from Burnley was the highest reported.[79] The Times suggested that the refusal to sell might constitute a further aggravated breach of the P&S rules.[80] He had 15 goals by the end of the transfer window, and another 6 in February made him the first Birmingham player to score 20 in a season since Steve Claridge in the 1994–95 Second Division-winning season and saw him named EFL Championship Player of the Month. The citation for that award noted that "Adams has added consistency, work rate and team play to his game this season."[81][82] He was named in the EFL's Championship Team of the Season and nominated, alongside Norwich City's Teemu Pukki and Sheffield United's Billy Sharp, for their Championship Player of the Season award.[83] Despite a goal-drought in March, Adams finished the season as Birmingham's top scorer with 22, all scored in the Championship.[75] He won both Players' and Supporters' Player of the Year Awards at the club's presentation night, although Jutkiewicz ran him close for the supporters' award, and his goal in a 3–3 draw with Swansea City in January – he "curled in a beauty from 20 yards" as Birmingham came from behind to take the lead[84] – was named Goal of the Season.[85]


On 1 July 2019, Adams joined Southampton for a fee reported to be £15 million,[86] signing a five-year contract.[87] Adams made his Premier League debut on 10 August for Southampton in a 3-0 defeat against Burnley[88]

After being linked with a loan move to Leeds United as a replacement for Eddie Nketiah in the 2020 January transfer window,[89] Southampton Manager Ralph Hasenhuttl advised that he wanted Adams to remain part of his plans.[90]

International career[edit]

Adams, whose father is from Antigua, was invited to join the Antigua and Barbuda squad for Caribbean Cup qualifiers in October 2014, but decided against accepting the invitation.[91] He was then called up to the England C squad – the team that represents the country at semi-professional level[92] – but he signed for Sheffield United before the 18 November fixture and thus became ineligible. He was called up to the England U20 squad for two matches against the Czech Republic in early September 2015.[93] He made his debut on 5 September in a 5–0 win at St George's Park, replacing Tyler Walker for the final 17 minutes,[94] and started the second match, a 1–0 defeat.[95]

Adams also qualifies to represent Scotland, through a maternal grandparent. He was approached by the Scottish Football Association in 2017, initially to consider playing for Scotland U21, and later for a senior friendly in November, but was not willing to commit himself at that time.[96]

Style of play[edit]

Manager Kevin Wilson of Adams' former club Ilkeston described Adams as having "pace in abundance, but he's really powerful too" and said that "his biggest asset is that knack of changing games in the blink of an eye".[20]

Career statistics[edit]

As of match played 11 January 2020
Appearances and goals by club, season and competition
Club Season League FA Cup League Cup Other Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Ilkeston 2013–14[8][9][12] NPL Premier Division 23 1 5[a] 0 28 1
2014–15[97] NPL Premier Division 17 8 3 0 1[b] 1 21 9
Total 40 9 3 0 6 1 49 10
Sheffield United 2014–15[98] League One 10 0 0 0 2 2 1[c] 1 13 3
2015–16[30] League One 36 11 2 0 2 0 1[d] 1 41 12
2016–17[41] League One 1 0 1 0
Total 47 11 2 0 4 2 2 2 55 15
Birmingham City 2016–17[41] Championship 40 7 2 0 0 0 42 7
2017–18[99] Championship 30 5 2 1 1 3 33 9
2018–19[75] Championship 46 22 1 0 1 0 48 22
Total 116 34 5 1 2 3 123 38
Southampton 2019–20[100] Premier League 16 0 1 0 2 0 19 0
Career total 219 54 11 1 8 5 8 3 246 63
  1. ^ 3 appearances in Derbyshire Senior Cup, 1 appearance in FA Trophy, 1 appearance in Northern Premier League Challenge Cup
  2. ^ Appearance in FA Trophy
  3. ^ Appearance in League One play-offs
  4. ^ Appearance in Football League Trophy





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